How You Could Add Cherries To It

25 Sep

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By the year 2030, about 98 million Indians are estimated to develop diabetes, according to a study published in the journal Lancet. Diabetes is fast becoming one of the most rampant causes of concern in the world of health and nutrition. It is characterised by elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels. If you are a diabetic, or know someone who is suffering from the condition, you would know that diabetics need to be extra careful about their diet. Sugary food, processed food, aerated beverages are packed with added sugar that could cause blood sugar fluctuations. It is advisable for diabetics to load up on local, seasonal fruits and vegetables; preferably the foods with a low glycaemic index. Fresh cherries may do wonders to keep your blood sugar spikes in control.

Sure, you have seen them sitting pretty on desserts, but on their own, cherries are a treasure trove of antioxidants and minerals. Cherries are packed with anti-inflammatory properties that could help relieve pain and discomfort in the body. Packed with antioxidants, they may also help bolster your immunity. Cherries contain significant amount of melatonin, essential for a smooth sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, they could be an ideal choice for diabetics too. According to the book, ‘Healing Foods’ by DK Publishing House, “Tart cherries may be useful in treating diabetes. Their abundant antioxidant anthocyanins can increase insulin production, helping regulate blood sugar levels.”

As per a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, anthocyanins present in cherries, may significantly pump up insulin production. Cherries are also high on fibres and have a low GI value. The natural sugar present in cherries metabolises slowly and prevents sugar spikes.

Here’s how you can include it in your diabetic diet:

1. Smoothies
Take some yogurt, some fresh pitted cherries, strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds and almonds in a blender and blend until smooth. It is advisable not to add sugar or honey in your smoothie, for it may elevate your blood sugar levels.

2. Salads
You can toss some fresh cherries in your green leafy salad (Think: arugula, lettuce and rocket leaves). Throw in some feta, some seeds and healthy dressing of your choice and you are good to go.

3. Cereals
Morning cereals need not always be a bland and boring affair. Top them with fresh cherries and nuts, and enjoy the yumminess.

4. Yogurt
Yogurt with fresh fruits is any day a better alternative to packaged flavoured yogurt you find in market. Take some pitted cherries and use them to top your bowl of yogurt. We bet you are going to love this fruity punch!

5 Best Summer Fruits You Can Grill To Please Your Sweet Tooth

23 Aug

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Summer season is at its peak and there is absolutely no dearth of fresh summer produce out there. Be it veggies or fruits, there are various summer delights available during this time of the year that can be experimented with in numerous ways. How about tossing up your favourite summer fruits on the grill? The coal fire will caramelise the natural sugar in the fruit, bringing out the best of flavours, giving it an exotic touch. The aromatic and juicy taste of caramelised fruits is undoubtedly heavenly and is also a healthier alternative to those high-calorie sweet dishes.

Here is a list of 5 summer fruits that can be used to make delectable grilled desserts:

1.Grilled Pineapple
This tropical fruit is an incredibly delicious fruit that offers incredible health benefits at the same time. While there is no denying the fact that pineapple is an immensely versatile fruit, you can now introduce the goodness of pineapple to desserts as well. Just brush those pineapple slices with some honey or brown sugar, and grease the barbecue grill with some olive or canola oil and toast it for a few minutes. Grilled pineapple is ready to be served. You can try sprinkling some cinnamon powder over it to enhance its flavours. This dish can be served as is or with a scoop of ice-cream as well.

2.Grilled Peaches
Grilled peaches make for a delicious yet simple dessert. Grilling brings out the intensified sweet taste of the fruit and takes less time in getting cooked as well. You can grill peaches with both peels on or off. Cut them into two pieces and brush them with some oil. Then grill them for a few minutes and sprinkle some cinnamon or cocoa powder. You can also try drizzling some raw honey and yoghurt over the dessert.

3.Grilled Bananas
To begin with, cut the bananas lengthwise into two halves. Don’t remove the peel, grease it with a little oil and grill it for few minutes. Now, brush a little honey and sprinkle some cinnamon over it and grill it again for another few minutes until the banana gets tender. You can serve it as is or pair it with a scoop of vanilla or butterscotch ice-cream.

4.Grilled Watermelon
Watermelon is one of the most relished summer fruits. It’s available in abundance during summers and is loved by kids and adults alike. Ever thought of grilling this summer delight? Grilled watermelon tastes great and is quite appealing to the eyes as well. Cut the watermelon into half-circular slices, and grease them with some olive oil. Place it over the grill. You can sprinkle some sugar crystals and drizzle some rose syrup over the slices as well. Garnish it with some fresh mint leaves and your delightful dessert is ready to serve.

5. Grilled Mangoes
Summers and mangoes are synonymous to each other. Let’s give an interesting makeover to everyone’s favourite summer fruit by tossing it up on the grill. Slice up the mangoes in two pieces, brush the juicy pulp with some oil and grill it for a few minutes until slightly roasted. You can try squeezing a little lime juice over it as well.

5 Best Kulcha Recipes To Try

22 Jun

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Kulcha Recipes: Gorging on piping hot naans, rotis and parathas for any meal of the day is something all of us would love to do. A part and parcel of a North Indian household, Indian breads incude a variety of such flatbreads which are all simply delicious. One of which is the classic kulcha that is often paired with mouth-watering chole. Kulcha is a variety of leavened Indian flatbread that is mostly found around the northern part of India, especially Punjab.

It is made of maida and a leavening agent, which is mostly yeast. The primary ingredients are then mixed with water and a pinch of salt to form a tight dough and left to rest for a few hours, covered with wet cloth. The result is then pummelled again and rolled flat to be baked in an oven or most commonly in a tandoor to perfection. The final kulcha is then cooked over on a pan with little butter or ghee and savoured with any of the Indian curries. Oh and have you ever tried pairing kulchas with a bowl of curd in summers? The soft and chewy kulcha with curd makes for a light and comforting pair to relish.

Kulchas are super soft in texture and often stuffed with a variety of delicious ingredients such as aloo, vegetables, coriander leaves and much more! There are many varieties of kulchas that are famous across north Indian region. From popular Amritsari kulcha to onion kulcha, there’s absolutely no way you can resist these yummy delights! Let’s look at the many varieties of kulcha that you can also prepare at home to relish with your favourite curries along with family and friends.

Here are 5 Best Kulcha Recipes To Try At Home:

1. Kulcha
Hot and fluffy classic kulcha recipe! Made with flour combined with a frothy yeast mixture and curd with a pinch of salt and sugar, the kulcha dough is flattened and baked for a few minutes to perfection. This kulcha recipe would be great when roasted and paired with a bowl of mouth-watering chole.

2. Amritsari Kulcha
A crispy, true blue Punjabi delight, Amritsari kulcha is one kulcha recipe that you can have all day in any meal from breakfast to dinner. Stuffed generously with all things flavourful, onion, ginger, green chilli, coriander, anaardana and lemon juice are combined with potatoes and packed into this amazing kulcha. It is roasted with butter over the pan to crispy hot. Pair this Amritsari kulcha recipe with a curry of your choice along with onion rings and pickle that would instantly tickle your taste buds.

3. Chana Kulcha
The classic pair of chana and kulcha! One cannot talk about kulcha without mentioning the chana kulcha recipe. Mouth-watering curry of chickpeas with a burst of eclectic flavours served with a choice of kulcha, you can choose your favourite stuffing or have the plain kulchas.

4. Onion Kulcha
A simple and easy stuffed kulcha recipe, cooked quickly in a microwave. Onion kulcha has a scrumptious combination of stuffing with mint leaves, carom seeds, green chillies, coriander, ginger, red chilli powder and pomegranate seeds along with chopped onions. Grilled in a microwave to a perfect crisp, this kulcha recipe is super quick and delicious!

5. Punjabi Style Nutri Kulcha
Here is a kulcha recipe packed with the goodness of nutri soya chunks! While all the other kulcha combinations would be too mainstream now, this exciting variety would be a welcome change to try at home. It is a delight for all the soya lovers, complete with flavourful ingredients like green chillies, ginger, garlic, onion and tomato sauce along with a melange of hearty spices cooked with nutri. This Punjabi-style nutri kulcha combo is a must-try at your next dinner party.

Hoover kids learn to share ­­– not waste — leftover food

24 Apr

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Anyone who has ever prepared food for children knows it’s not always easy to get them to clean their plates or finish a meal.

So you can imagine what it’s like in a school cafeteria, where kids decide for themselves when they’re done and what they will or won’t eat.

Lots of food gets thrown away, but Hoover schools have joined a host of schools across the country that are trying to prevent food waste by implementing what they call “share tables.”

When kids get through eating, if they still have food left over, they can put certain food and drink items on the share table for someone else to pick up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture does, however, have specific best practices they encourage schools to use if they have share tables, and Hoover schools follow those guidelines, child nutrition director Melinda Bonner said.

Children can only put whole pieces of fruit or unopened prepackaged items, such as a bag of baby carrots or sliced apples, on the share table. Unopened milk or juice containers also are accepted and are put in a container of ice to keep them cool.

At the end of the day, any leftover milk is discarded and food items are donated to Magic City Harvest, a nonprofit that gathers leftover food from grocery stores, restaurants, schools and hospitals and distributes it to agencies that feed people, Bonner said.

But most Hoover schools find ways to distribute leftover food to their own students who need or want it, she said.

At Trace Crossings Elementary, enrichment teacher Jodi Tofani carries the food to her classroom, where kids use it for snacks. Special education teachers who work in her hall get food for their students who might need it, she said. With the exception of two milk bottles, “every single Friday, it’s all gone.”

At Simmons Middle School, child nutrition manager Teresa Short typically carries about 100 items left over from the share table to the bus lines and offers food for kids to take home with them.

“Even though we’re Hoover, we know that children go home and don’t have snacks,” Short said. “It might be a long time ‘til momma comes home and cooks. … We’re trying anything that could help our kids get through to supper.”

Usually, all the food is taken, she said.

Simmons was one of the first Hoover schools to implement share tables, doing so in the 2017-18 school year, Short said. Now, all the schools offer them, Bonner said.

Tofani, at Trace Crossings, said the program required a little bit of training. Kids had to learn they couldn’t take a bite out of an apple and still put it on the share table, she said.

Older students in her enrichment classes made signs to explain the rules and help supervise the table to make sure all the kids know what can and can’t go there.

Tofani’s students counted one day, and there were 158 items donated, she said. Juice, fruit and milk were the main items donated, but sometimes kids will share other things, she said.

Exactly half of those items were picked up by other students during meal times, and the other half were distributed throughout the day, she said. More items are donated during breakfast because by lunchtime, more kids have developed a full appetite, she said.

J.M. Galbraith, one of the fourth-graders who helps with the share table, said most of the children who put food on the table are kindergartners, while the older kids are the ones who take things off of it.

Leilani Bell, a second-grader at Trace Crossings, said she thinks the share table is great. Sometimes, she doesn’t want her cereal, so she’ll put it on the share table so somebody else can have it, she said.

Otherwise, “that’s just wasting your money,” she said. “You have to pay for this food.”

Another time, she picked up a chocolate milk from the share table for herself, she said.

Annabelle Hudson, another second-grader, said she has given to and taken from the share table as well. “I think it’s very kind to share all the food because sharing is caring,” she said.

Japanese food that will keep you warm during winter

27 Feb

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Winter in Tokyo can offer some sunny days with beautiful blue skies, but it comes at a cost, with the average temperature hanging somewhere between 2 and 10 degrees Celsius. Well, you’ve been out exploring or maybe you were taking refuge in a museum for the morning, but it’s lunchtime in Tokyo and you’re hungry. Don’t stand out in the cold and wonder what to eat, read on for 8 Japanese foods that will warm you up during winter in Tokyo.

1) Ramen
Be careful not to burn your mouth, a hot bowl of ramen will certainly fill you up and warm you up at the same time. Chinese-style wheat noodles, meat, vegetables and a sheet of nori (seaweed) come together in a hearty broth. It’s the perfect meal for colder weather. Basic broths, such as miso or tonkotsu pork are always a safe bet, and usually, you can add in some condiments like garlic and pepper to bring it to the next level. Warm udon or soba, of course, might do a similar job (ask for “atatakai,” meaning “warm”), but a thick ramen broth, soft-boiled egg, and a fat slice of chashu (pork) really feels like a cozy hug. With a side of gyoza dumplings hot off the pan, you’ll be toasty in no time. Try a bowl of tantanmen, ramen with a spicy kick, if it’s especially cold out.

2) Nabe
The term “nabemono” or “nabe” covers all kinds of hot pot style foods, referring to soup-based meals made in a communal pot. When winter rolls around in Japan, it becomes time to whip out the nabe pot and eat together around the kotatsu (heated table). Warming for the belly and the heart, meat with vegetables and noodles cooked together in a hot broth is best shared with family or friends. Typically in restaurants, a large communal pot sits on a portable stove or one built into the table, and the nabe cooks in front of you and your dining companions while you chat. The longer your nabe cooks, the more intensely the flavors of the soup develop. Nabe has a really cozy image that goes hand in hand with cold weather in Japan.

3) Shabu Shabu
“Shabu shabu” is an onomatopoeic word in Japanese for the “swish swish” sound of dipping and flipping slices of meat in the boiling nabe broth. In this variation of hot pot, the meat comes in thin slices so they can be cooked quickly and then dipped into your choice of sauces. Some restaurants offer a pot with two or more sections so that you can have different types of soup. Bases range from miso and soy sauce to yuzu citrus, as well as other variants like spicy kimchi or creamy tofu milk. Adding in vegetables like green onions, kinoko (mushrooms), noodles, and tofu cubes makes for a healthy, tasty and toasty group dinner.

4) Sukiyaki
Another nabe variant, sukiyaki is a sweet-flavored nabemono that is cooked in a cast iron pot right at the table. Sukiyaki consists of meats, green vegetables, and different styles of tofu, simmered in a base soup made of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Udon or mochi rice cakes are often in the mix too, as well as clear glass noodles made from konnyaku root, called ito (“string”) konnyaku. Daikon radish, to soak in the sauce, and a variety of kinoko mushrooms are also typically used in sukiyaki. Once it is ready, you are meant to eat the meat by dipping it in raw egg first!

5) Japanese Curry
Japan is more commonly known for its delicate flavors and subtle textures, but an unusual food that has developed into its own realm is Japanese curry. Often including hearty chunks of meat, carrots, and potatoes, it is really a perfect comfort food during the winter months. Homey and filling, curry rice often comes with your choice of katsu (a panko-coated cutlet) or agemono (deep-fried foods). Curry udon, a noodle alternative, also hits the spot on a cold day. To ramp up the heat, sprinkle some shichimi-togarashi on top (a chili pepper spice mix with seven ingredients). For the hardcore curry addicts, the chain restaurant Coco-Curry has stores spread across the city and allows you to choose the spiciness level. Not just by Japan standards, even the low levels from one to three pack a punch. Level 10 is truly not for the faint of heart, but apparently, if you can conquer it, you can keep the spoon.

6) Chukaman (Steamed Buns)
Bonus Tip: If you are on the run and need a hot snack, the chukaman, or warm steamed buns, sold at convenience stores are perfect for a little pick-me-up between meals. Nikuman (meat-filled steam buns) or kareman (curry-filled steam buns) are always tasty, but you can even get pizza flavored buns or sweet buns with anko (red bean paste) filling.

Level-Up Bonus Tip: Try the oden at the konbini and you’ll really feel like a Tokyo local.

7) Oden
Hang on, let’s just backtrack a moment. Convenience store oden? Are you sure?
Yes! If you’d like a hot snack on the go, try picking up some oden to-go. Usually, oden items are displayed in self-service stainless steel warmers near the registers. It’s warm and delicious, easy access, quite cheap and you just pay per piece.

So, let’s track forwards, what is oden?
Strongly associated with wintertime, oden is a soup-based traditional Japanese food. Inside a light dashi soup stock flavored with soy sauce, a variety of tofu, boiled eggs, and vegetables float are submerged and infused by the umami broth flavors. You can find fish cakes of all shapes and sizes too, and you can choose which individual pieces you’d like to try. Get warmed up by the soup, while enjoying the different intriguing textures of the separate ingredients. Of course, home-cooked oden is the best way to have it, but you can find it at izakayas and specialty stores too.

8) Mochi
Finally, if you feel like a little snack, grab some mochi. Mochi can be enjoyed any time of the year, but particularly during in the winter months, yakimochi is wonderful on a cold day at a temple or shrine. These pounded rice cakes are grilled usually over a charcoal fire, puffing as they warm. Starchy and filling, there is something about its gooey texture and winter that go hand in hand.

A Model for Food Recovery and More

27 Dec

Food Shift, an Alameda nonprofit, recently celebrated its seven-year anniversary. Food Shift receives thousands of pounds of donated produce each week, from several places, including Imperfect Produce and the San Francisco Produce Market. It’s become a hub for recovered produce and food, and it redistributes the produce. Half of it goes to the Alameda Food Bank, just across the street from Food Shift (677 Ranger Ave.).

“The cosmetic standards in grocery stores and markets are so high that if an apple or lemon has any blemish, it would be taken off the shelf,” explained Dana Frasz, founder and executive director, referring to the donated produce that they receive.
food_shift_team
Food Shift staffers also send food to City Ministries in downtown Oakland. Each week, hundreds of pounds also go to Earth Freedom Collective’s free food stand, which takes place on Wednesdays in front of Resilient Wellness in West Oakland (2461 San Pablo Ave.).
They give away produce and some prepared foods for free (they encourage people to bring their own bags, containers, and utensils) in a neighborhood known for having few options available for fruits and vegetables.

About 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted. Frasz has been working on food recovery issues since she was 18 and has been thinking of solutions for years. She realized that recovering food alone was not enough.

What started as a waste reduction and food recovery program has now grown into a larger mission of feeding people and creating jobs. For the past two years, Food Shift has been working with Alameda Point Collaborative, hiring its tenants, who are formerly homeless or have disabilities or disabled family members, as apprentices in the Food Shift kitchen.

Frasz said 75 percent of those who graduated from their job training program are either now working or back in school. Over several months, the trainees are paid minimum wage and learn cooking and job skills.

“Saving food and feeding people with the food that would otherwise be thrown out was rewarding,” said Regina Oliver, who graduated from the program in January and now works at UPS.

Nonprofits and corporations have been hiring the graduates for catering. Food Shift’s catering menu is entirely vegetarian, and almost nothing is bought from the grocery store.

On a recent fall weekday, staff, apprentices, and a group of volunteers were cooking a red enchilada casserole made from cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, corn tortillas, and potatoes, along with some nutritious side dishes: sautéed bok choy and kale spiced with cumin and garlic, and pinto beans. They were cooking food for a three-day Green Peace conference.

Suzy Medios, culinary instructor and head chef of catering at Food Shift, works with whatever vegetables they get and does not seem fazed — and is, in fact, excited — by the challenge. “All the vegetables we are getting are in season and at their prime,” Medios said. They also keep dry staples like beans and rice, and many of the spices and oils are also donated.

One of the main challenges in food recovery and food security, Frasz added, is finding funding. The services they provide, from buying a van and hiring a driver to picking up produce every day, costs money. Recently, Imperfect Produce started to foot a portion of the bill for transportation, and Frasz believes more food companies that are wasting food should contribute financially to food recovery efforts.

Food Shift currently is in its final stretch of a year-end fundraising campaign so it can keep programs like the food apprenticeship program going. The nonprofit has had success with catering, including clients such as Kaiser, Clif Bar, and LinkedIn, and is looking for more ongoing catering gigs such as at a senior center, school, or corporate meal service. Food Shift also offers other services that generate funding, including consulting for companies and nonprofits for waste-free events.

Tips for eating street food in Thailand

24 Oct

It doesn’t take long for visitors to Thailand to realise that street food is practically a way of life there.

Considering that many houses aren’t equipped with full kitchens, and raw ingredients can cost more than prepared meals, it’s no surprise that eating out is more common than eating in.

If your priority when travelling is to experience the culture or enjoy the food (or to save money), the Thai street food scene will be a dream come true. Bangkok is indeed the country’s mecca of street food, but there are plenty of stalls, carts, and markets all across Thailand.

From noodles to curries, soups to salads, dumplings to spring rolls, and roti to sticky rice, you could spend weeks sampling Thai cuisine. Some of the top street food to eat in Bangkok or elsewhere in Thailand includes pad thai, pad see ew, massaman curry, papaya salad, banana roti, and mango sticky rice.

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Of course, a street food cart on the side of the road in Thailand isn’t going to follow the same hygiene regulations as your favourite restaurant back home. Some travellers wonder whether they should eat street food at all, or if it’s a guaranteed way to get sick.

Contrary to popular belief, though, street food in Thailand (and many other countries) is no riskier than restaurants. When you eat on the street, you’re more likely to be served fresh food and to get to see it being prepared, both of which go a long way toward keeping you healthy.

In fact, I consider myself lucky to have gotten sick abroad only three times in years of travel, and the culprit every time was a “nice” restaurant that catered to foreigners – never a food cart.

While travelling in a developing country carries some inevitable risk, these tips have helped me enjoy the street food of Thailand without getting sick.

Watch your food being cooked

One big benefit of street food is that you can often see the food being cooked, so take advantage of it! Are there bugs near the ingredients or the pans? Did the vendor wipe their nose while they were preparing food? Does the cooking area seem generally dirty?

If so, look for another option. Some larger stalls in Thailand prepare food in the back and then bring it out to customers, so avoid those in favour of places where you can see what’s going on.

Watch the vendor serve other customers

In addition to seeing the food being cooked, watch the people in front of you being served. Is the same person handling both cash and food? Did they touch their face and then the food? Is the food being served in dirty containers?

Again, if the answer is yes, head elsewhere. There are so many street food options in Thailand; you won’t have any problem finding something else.

Look for food stalls with long lines – especially of locals

A cart or stall that’s unhygienic and regularly makes people sick probably won’t be teeming with customers, especially locals, who will know if certain places are unsafe to eat. If you notice an empty food stall, there may well be a reason it’s empty – and that’s a good reason for you to avoid it.

Beyond that, one of the biggest risks of street food comes from food that isn’t fresh. If a dish has been sitting out in the sun for hours, it’s much more likely to make you sick. But long lines usually mean quick turnover; unless you can see an enormous stockpile of food sitting there; the vendor has to keep preparing new food to serve up to all the customers.

If you get in the back of a line, you’ll probably get food that’s fresh, and that means it’s safer.

Eat at regular local meal times

Of course, there might not be lines anywhere if you’re there at the wrong time. Going out for street food in the mid-afternoon may mean getting a dish that’s been sitting out since the end of the lunch rush, which is plenty of time for bacteria to form. Instead, eat at local meal times, since that’s when food will be the freshest.

Be careful with drinks made with water or ice

Juices and smoothies are common street foods, but they’re made with tap water (or ice made from tap water) in most places, meaning they should be avoided. There’s an exception in Thailand, though: factory-produced ice made from purified water is quite common, even at street food stalls.

But it’s not everywhere, so check what’s being used before you order a drink with ice. The purified ice is usually cylindrical and has a hole in it, so look for that; if you see ice chips or shaved ice instead, steer clear of it.

Skip raw fruit and vegetables unless they can be peeled

The bad news is that fruits and vegetables can easily carry bacteria, making them unsafe to eat raw. Two top foods to avoid in Thailand are fresh leafy greens and berries, which are especially likely to be contaminated.

But the good news is that fruit with a peel is safe, because the skin protects the edible inside, even in unclean environments. And with all the Thai fruits that have a peel – dragonfruit, mangosteen, rambutan, not to mention bananas, mangos, and pineapple – you won’t be missing too much.